Driver’s License ‘somber but simple tone’ resonates with teenagers


Picture provided by Adriana Cortes.

Sophomore Adriana Cortes listens to Driver’s License by Olivia Rodrigo on her computer.

Angelina Pascali, Entertainment Editor

Breaking records and topping the Billboard charts, Olivia Rodrigo’s hit track “Driver’s License” is the No. 1 song in America. 

Rodrigo, a former Disney star, debuted “Driver’s License” on Jan. 8, and within a week it was streamed 76.1 million times, the highest total since Cardi B and Meghan Thee Stallion’s “WAP”. It broke the single-day Spotify streaming record on Jan. 11, and then its own record again the next day. It now holds the company’s record for most worldwide streams in one week.

“I think nowadays, with the pandemic, people are paying attention to a lot of things in life,” sophomore Adriana Cortes said. “Especially music, because I think everybody really listens to music and everybody has their own preferences. But I think one thing everybody can relate to is something sad, like a heartbreak. Because everybody obviously has emotions. We all go through something like that. And relationships are a big thing in people’s lives.”

The song tells the story of a teenage girl who finally gets her driver’s license and drives around crying, reminiscing about a lost love. Rodrigo’s lyrics describe her experiences and the way she recalls her former love.

“I heard about it on Tik Tok,” Cortes said. “And it was on my for you page where you see videos and stuff. And then it was a bunch of videos of like, oh my gosh like Olivia Rodriguez is gonna drop this song and it kind of intrigued me. So then I was looking more into it, and I listened to it and really liked it.”

The track became a heartbreak anthem for Tik Tok users, becoming one of the most trending sounds. It allowed users to unite around the pain of teenage heartbreak as they posted videos of them singing along, dancing and explaining the song to other people in their lives.

“I think the song has let people express themselves on Tik Tok,” sophomore Alina Gutierrez said. “And it was just a way to show our feelings especially during a pandemic, when we are feeling extra isolated from the world.”

Rodrigo’s presence on the Disney Channel was a big cause of the song’s success. She is best known for her roles on “Bizaardvark” and the Disney+ original “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” This allowed Rodrigo to enter the realm of music with a built in audience.

“I knew Olivia Rdodrigo from the High School Musical show,” sophomore Ella Lee said. “And I followed her on Instagram, and I first found out about the song from one of her posts.”

Unlike other pop hits on Billboard Charts like “Levitating” by Dua Lipa, Driver’s License has a somber but simple tone. It is a cross between folk, pop and indie rock. 

“I think it’s a song that has really impactful lyrics,” Lee said. “And it is catchy at the same time and then the actual melody is nice. It’s simple and the lyrics are pretty to me. It is also from a girl’s point of view so I can just relate to it more.”

The critic Jon Caramanica wrote that the song “successfully balances dark yet crisp melodrama with bold tunefulness, softly pointed singing with sharp imagery, It is, in every way, a modern and successful pop song.”

Overall the song has allowed teenagers a way to express their sadness and confusion during a crucial stage in their life of discovering who they are as people.

“As young adults our minds are developing,” Cortes said. “And we come in contact with a lot of people and we make connections. I guess we really try to find a sense of home and somebody I guess we can really connect with, someone who will always have your back. A lot of people can relate to that and the song really describes that and how things don’t always work out the way we want them to.”